Tuesday 2 May 2017

Don't let Diane Abbott's brain fart distract you from the bigger picture

The Labour policy of reversing the Tory capital gains tax cut in order to put 10,000 extra bobbies on the beat is a fantastic one.

It's the kind of policy that only the extremely wealthy (the wealthiest 0.3% of the population) or criminals (who really like having the lowest levels of policing since the mid-70s) would oppose.

The statistics are all in Labour's favour:

Let me repeat one of those figures again. The violent crime rate is up 96% since 2012. Violent crime is soaring and the Tories are still refusing to rule out imposing even more police cuts!

Despite having a sensible policy to combat a real and increasingly serious problem Labour have still somehow managed to shoot themselves in the foot.

The guilty party was the shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott who blabbered out a load of innumerate nonsense when asked a simple question about how much the 10,000 extra police were going to cost.

Instead of saying "I don't remember the exact figure" or "let me look at my notes" she engaged in an excruciating display of out-loud guesswork and somehow made the claim the policy would cost £300,000 (a salary of £30 per year per new police officer!).

She clearly got a bit muddled and said 300 thousand instead of 300 million (the actual cost), but then she made it an awful lot worse by plucking the figure £80 million out of thin air later on.

The negative publicity storm over this blundering interview has completely overwhelmed the policy, and the focus is now on how unfit Diane Abbott is for high office, rather than the very good policy she managed to mutilate.

Just think about how this would have played out differently if Abbott had just used the evasive Theresa May tactic of totally ignoring the question and robotically churning out a load of pre-prepared political sound bites.

"So how much is this policy going to cost?"
"What this country needs is a government that works for the many and not the few, and that's why people should vote Labour."
If she'd even answered like that the media couldn't have whipped up a shit-storm without making themselves look like a bunch of total hypocrites given Theresa May used this type of brazenly evasive non-answer tactic over and again during her own car crash interview on the Marr show just two days previously.

What now?

The policy of reversing the Tory police cuts itself is still a good one, but Abbott has made herself look totally out of her depth.

Jeremy Corbyn probably won't sack her because he sticks by his people, but if she had the good of the party at heart she should probably resign and give Corbyn the chance to appoint someone with a little more credibility.

Offering the job to someone like Yvette Cooper, Dan Jarvis or Ben Bradshaw would probably not go down all that well with most left-wing Labour voters (who are still dismayed at the damage the failed Anyone But Corbyn coup inflicted on the party), but it would probably play out a lot better than having Abbott trying to cling on against a barrage of ridicule because it would represent a well needed display of bridge-building between the rival Labour Party factions.

Would Abbott actually resign as shadow Home Secretary for the good of the party or will she try to cling on?

Would one of the more right-wing Labour MPs even step up to the responsibility for the good of the party, or will they just sit on their hands and wait for Theresa May to win the election because they'd actually prefer to make the British public suffer an extreme hard-right "no deal" Tory Brexit than participate in a properly left-wing Labour government?

Only time will tell ...

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